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Update on the Garden Route Rebuild (1 September 2017) PDF Print
Friday, 01 September 2017
  gardenrouterebuild.jpg Alan Winde, Minster of Economic Opportunities, today (1 September 2017), released an update on the Garden Route Rebuild Initiative.

This week, the GRRI steering committee hosted its fourth meeting. Project teams tabled the following updates:

Disaster funding application

The National Disaster Management Centre visited Knysna on 30 August and assessed the damage identified by Knysna and Bitou Municipalities. The Provincial Disaster Management Centre is applying for R194 million in disaster funding from the National Disaster Management Fund. The application is being made on behalf of the relevant Municipalities, provincial and national departments, and agencies. Damage has been incurred to municipal infrastructure, education-, health- and public works infrastructure, and to the environment, amongst others. Specifically, funding assistance is being sought for asbestos removal (R50 million) and environment rehabilitation (R37 million).


Eden District Municipality is assessing air quality samples at three locations to measure asbestos in the air.

A service provider has been appointed to assess the remaining houses partly or wholly destroyed by the fire for asbestos, with results expected in the next week.

Residents who would like to rebuild are responsible for ensuring that the asbestos has been safely removed. If the initial results, undertaken by municipalities, are disputed, residents are welcome to arrange for a second opinion of asbestos samples at their own cost. The Municipalities are urging residents to make use of accredited service providers to dispose of asbestos, as it is a hazardous material.

During an inspection of the environmental projects last week, Minister Winde and Eden Mayor Memory Booysen discovered rubble illegally dumped on the roadside in Brenton, and some of it contains asbestos.

“We are urging residents to report illegal dumping or removal, as this could create a health hazard for the whole community. Illegal dumping should be reported to Bitou Municipality on 086 124 8686 or Knysna Municipality on 081 556 9374,” said Minister Winde.

For more information on the demolition and asbestos requirements, please visit http://www.gardenrouterebuild.co.za/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Information-on-Demolition-Applications-Asbestos-Removal.pdf


Minister Alan Winde (middle); Cllr Memory Booysen, Eden DM Executive Mayor (right) and Wayne Young (left) visited various sites in Knysna where soil blankets and soil sausages have been installed. These measures ensure that erosion and mudslides do not take place, especially during heavy rain. All these products are biodegradable.


The Garden Route has the highest concentration of alien invasive plants in South Africa, and aliens are expected to grow back more vigorously than before. This regrowth poses a serious fire risk for the future. It is therefore crucial to mitigate the risk of possible regrowth of these species, and landowners are encouraged to take steps to ensure that they manage this risk on their properties. For advice and assistance, they can contact the Southern Cape Fire Protection Association.

Long-term interventions are focused on ensuring that the Garden Route is more resilient to fire-related disasters. The 45 environmental jobs created will continue for the next two months because many high-risk areas still require hydro-seeding and soil stabilisation to prevent mudslides and erosion.


The Garden Route Rebuild Initiative met with relief organisations on 30 August to thank them for their tireless efforts in supporting the residents of the Garden Route during and after the fires.

The Department of Social Development outlined its programmes relating to relief and trauma counselling.

The Mayor and Municipal Manager of Knysna encouraged volunteers and relief organisations to continue their efforts as we move from a relief phase into a rebuilding phase. Everyone committed to working together so that all efforts could be coordinated for higher impact.

Community engagements by Knysna municipality

In the coming weeks the Mayor and Municipal Manager of Knysna are again meeting with residents who were affected by the fire. The purpose of the meetings is to understand the further challenges faced by affected residents, and to establish how government authorities can assist.

At the first meeting in Brenton Hall this week, residents raised concerns about asbestos removal and difficulties in settling insurance claims. To address the latter concern, Knysna Municipality has arranged an Insurance Open Day on 6 September, which will be attended by the South African Insurance Association and insurance companies, amongst others. The meeting is taking place at the Premier Hotel (The Moorings) from 10am to 4pm. For further information contact: This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it

Training Lay-off Scheme

On 31 August, the Department of Labour hosted an information session for employers in the Eden District area. The session looked at labour legislation and labour funds, such as UIF and the Compensation Fund.

A programme which may assist business affected by the fire is the Training Lay-off Scheme, a job–saving scheme provided by government. This programme supports a turnaround of businesses in distress and the upskilling and training of employees. Instead of retrenching employees, they can be sent on training and receive 75% of their salary via the scheme, giving the business a period of time to stabilise. Read more about the scheme here: http://bit.ly/2voK2mO

Progress with the rebuilding process

In total, 45 subsidised houses and 150 shacks were damaged or destroyed during the fires in the Witlokasie area.

The Provincial Department of Human Settlements has contractors on site who are in the process of restoring the houses (some were destroyed and others damaged) and installing services for 150 sites. There has been good progress, with the projects to be completed by the New Year.

In addition, temporary housing is in the process of being provided to the people who lived in the houses. Ten structures are already completed.

For residents living in other areas, the Knysna and Bitou Municipalities have provided significant financial relief through waiving building-related fees and re-valuing destroyed properties as “vacant erven”.

In addition, Knysna Municipality is providing a “rates holiday” of one year for affected residents (July 2017 to June 2018), as well as exemption from property rates for the month of June 2017. The total value of the relief provided by Knysna Municipality is over R16.5 million for the rates alone.

Hydroseeding is done by making use of a high-pressure hosepipe to spray a mixture of water and indigenous seeds onto different landscapes which will fast-track regrowth and soil stabilisation. Read more about it here: http://bit.ly/2vK44br
Last Updated ( Friday, 01 September 2017 )
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